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How to Install Stepping Stones on Concrete Surfaces

Like Laying Stepping Stones Over Dirt; You Will Need Concrete Stones, or Even Bricks, and Sand

© 2012 by all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile

Installing concrete stepping stones; photo courtesy Kelly Smith

Actually, that’s not technically all you’ll need; that is simply your material list. Depending on your particular situation, you will also need a broom or rake and some dedicated elbow grease.

The Concept for this Home Improvement Project

You might consider this DIY task for aesthetic reasons. In my case, it was a necessity; the resulting extra curb appeal was a nice side effect. At my house, I walk to and from my entry door via a concrete walkway that parallels the brick wall of the garage.

When my house was constructed, it seems that the concrete contractor built his concrete form for the walkway at the wrong elevation. Either that or it settled before I bought the place.

During heavy, fast-hitting rainfall or the tropical storms we are on the receiving end of during the summer, water approximately an inch deep ponds on almost 3/4 of the walkway.

Sure, it will drain off quickly enough after the rain stops, but it guarantees soaked shoes if we absolutely have to go somewhere before that happens.

First, Prepare Your Concrete Surface and then Lay Your Stepping Stones

Stepping stones are available in a variety of sizes and patterns so be sure to take careful measurements prior to going shopping. My particular walkway is 3’ wide so I simply used 1’ X 1’ ones.

I also purchased 3 bags of “play sand”. I estimated how much I would need and erred on the side of caution.

So what was the price for this project? I shopped at Home Depot and the stones cost $1.80/square foot (each stone) and a 50 pound sack of sand rang up at the register for $4.50.

The ones I bought are made of concrete. The fancier clay brick pavers would have be a bit better looking but it would have raised my construction budget.

  1. Choose your starting point. Spread sufficient sand for 2 rows plus a couple of extra inches. The concept is to level out the surface so the stones won’t rock too much.

  2. Carefully pick out any small pebbles you might find. Of course, this won't be necessary if you are installing on a soil surface like a garden or in your yard.

  3. Next, level out your sand using your broom or rake. It only has to be deep enough so that your stones will not rock because of any irregularities in the concrete surface.

  4. Carefully set your first stone in place. Wiggle it around a bit to make it settle in flat and level. With this simple job I didn’t bother to snap any chalk lines, use a laser, or pull a string line. I simply lined it up with the edge of the concrete on every row.

  5. Stand on the stone to make sure it does not wobble. Adjust the sand if you need to.

  6. Set the next stone in the row up to the first one and then give it the wobble test.

  7. Repeat the previous step with the third stone (or however many your job dictates. The first row is now complete.

  8. Install your second row and begin all over with spreading sand for your next 2 rows.

  9. That’s all there is to it; just do a couple of rows at a time and work on the next ones standing on the ones just completed.

  10. Drive small spikes or some other method of retention around the perimeter to keep the stones from shifting.

A Pressure-Treated Walkway Alternative

Originally I had planned to use pressure-treated lumber or Bluwood framing studs to complete the project by building a small deck, until I thought about it a while.

The cost using concrete stones is a bit less painful in the long run since although treated lumber has a long life-span, it will rot out eventually. This concrete will be there long after I’m gone.

But besides that, using lumber would have been much more labor-intensive and would have created a heap of scrap that would have ended up in the landfill.

For those two reasons combined the longevity factor, using stones was a much more sustainable and green building solution.

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